woking borough council

THE team behind the Woking Community Stadium project is targeting final approval for its plans by January 2020.

Speaking at a Woking FC fans’ forum at The Laithwaite Community Stadium last Thursday, club chairman Rosemary Johnson described the planned new stadium as “in everyone’s best interests” and “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

An aerial night-time CGI showing the planned Woking Community Stadium and the wider Cardinal Court proposals.

The final proposal – to include an Environmental Impact Assessment – will be submitted to Woking Borough Council in September.

Under the terms of the project, the council would be the landlord of the 10,000-capacity stadium, a multi-use facility incorporating retail and commercial spaces.

Proposing to build nearly 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space to create a new neighbourhood at Kingfield, to be called Cardinal Court, as part of the development has led to some local concerns regarding housing density and the pressure on infrastructure around the area.

The plans, along with images of the expanded stadium and Cardinal Court, have been available to view at three public consultations held at the football ground. Another chance to see them is at the Mayford Village Hall tonight (18 July) from 4pm to 8pm. Members of the project team will be on hand, and residents can take the opportunity to ask questions and give their views.

For the full story, get the 18 July edition of the News & Mail

THE Ambassadors Cinema in Woking will close at the end of September for a major overhaul, which won’t see the venue reopen until the summer of 2020.

The town’s cinema since the Ambassadors complex was built in 1992, the venue has been running for 364 days a year since opening 27 years ago. With this comes a fair amount of wear and tear, on everything from the seats to the carpets.

Now with the chance for reinvention, with investment from Woking Borough Council and Ambassador Theatre Group, management say the project marks a significant collaboration as part of the town-wide regeneration.

“It’s going to be more than just a refurbishment. We’re going to strip the whole of the existing building out and start again,” said cinema project director Simon Thomsett.

The cinema will be closed from Saturday 28 September.

THE TOWN centre’s new luxury hotel is now almost 100 metres – 328 feet – off the ground “a significant milestone” in Woking’s £540m transformation recognised in a sky-high celebration last week.

The topping-off of the 23rd storey sees the new 189-room Hilton building on track to form a key focal point in the Victoria Square transformation project. The occasion brought together local councillors, representatives from Hilton Worldwide, construction leaders and investors.

Hilton’s Stephen Cassidy with Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan

The building project, which is part of a joint venture between Woking Borough Council and shopping centre owner and investor Moyallen Group, is being spearheaded by Sir Robert McAlpine. Due to be completed in late 2020, it is strategically located at the junction of Victoria Way and Church Street West.

Set to become one of the best-connected hotels in Surrey and the South East of England, it will complement the existing DoubleTree by Hilton Woking which opened in 2016 with 177 guest rooms and 12 suites.

The development of Victoria Square “represents a real game-changer for Woking” says Cllr David Bittleston

Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton’s senior vice-president for development, Europe, Middle East and Asia, Hilton, said: “The town is undergoing a major transformation and its ambitious regeneration – together with the town’s fantastic connectivity to central London and its main airports – makes it a prestigious location in which to introduce our flagship brand.”

Victoria Square will also incorporate 429 apartments across two new residential towers and will include a multi-storey car park, a medical centre and two public plazas. It also offers a further 75,000 square feet of innovative retail space.

At 34 and 32 storeys high, the site’s tallest residential tower will be 118 metres – 387 feet – high. These are earmarked for phased completion from late 2020, with a complete fit-out for apartments and occupation by 2021.

For the full story get the 4 July edition of the News & Mail

A PLAYGROUND in West Byfleet has been extended and improved after parents successfully campaigned for £25,000 in county council funding.

Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking, centre with children and parents at the improved West Byfleet Play Area in Camphill Road

Woking Borough Council added £35,000 for the work, which took just over three months. The project included an extension of the existing play area, new equipment, a wooden activity trail, junior multi-play climbing frame, rope tunnel and multi see-saw.

The opening of the refurbished play area was attended by Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking.

The campaign to get the grant was led by parents Rebecca Bradshaw and Emma Slaymaker.

Rebecca said the resulting playground was a brilliant facility and the campaign included other parents and West Byfleet residents.

“There is now equipment for older junior school children. The park is also very much a community facility,” Rebecca said.

For the full story get the 4 July edition of the News & Mail

DETAILS of ambitious plans to transform Woking FC’s ground to English Football League standards and build an estimated 1,000 flats on nearby ground in a £10 million project are to be revealed to local residents in a series of public consultations.

The outline proposals were revealed in April last year when Woking Borough Council reached an agreement with property developer GolDev Limited.

Woking FC’s current stadium at Kingfield

In plans that have been discussed and developed behind the scenes since 2002, Laithwaite Community Stadium would become a 10,000-seat facility that would allow the club to aim for promotion at least up to League One.

The ground currently holds a maximum of 6,000 fans, with 2,500 of those seated. There are a number of other improvements, such as greater accessibility and media facilities that would be necessary to qualify the ground to host games in the upper tiers of the game.

The estimated £10 million cost would be financed by building nearly 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space creating a new neighbourhood at Kingfield, to be called Cardinal Court.

The plans, along with images of the expanded stadium and Cardinal Court will be shown to the public for the first time at a consultation held at the Laithwaite Community Stadium next Friday (12 July) from 2pm to 8pm.

There will be two more consultations at the ground next Saturday from 10am to noon and on Tuesday 16 July from 2pm to 6pm. A fourth consultation will take place on Thursday 18 July from 4pm to 8pm at Mayford Village Hall.

Woking FC chairman Rosemary Johnson

Members of the project team will be at the sessions where residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and give their views.

GolDev is due to give a briefing to councillors next Wednesday, followed by a presentation of Woking FC fans the following day.

Rosemary Johnson, chairman of Woking Football Club, said: “We are looking forward to presenting the Woking Community Stadium proposals to the community. We want this project to work for our club, our supporters, and the community to which we belong, and we look forward to hearing your views on the proposals.”

Once the consultations have been held, the plans could then be altered and go through a series of planning applications through the council.

For the full story get the 4 July News & Mail

THE couple who founded the Ambassador Theatre Group joined a veteran fireman who has worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross for half a century in being given the Freedom of the Borough by Woking council.

Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking, presents Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire with velum scrolls marking them being given Freedom of the Borough

Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire, who live in West Byfleet, built ATG into the world’s number one live-theatre company with almost 50 venues in Britain, the US and Europe.

They topped The Stage 100 most influential people in UK theatre every year between 2010 and 2016 and were first in the Evening Standard “Power 1,000” in theatre in 2013.

In 2005, Dame Rosemary became only the second female president of the Society of London Theatre in its 100 year history.

She said: “To be bestowed the Honorary Freedom of the Borough by Woking Borough Council is a true honour. Woking Borough is not only our home but also the home to our businesses having spent more than two decades running Ambassador Theatre Group here.”

Mick Bullen, who has volunteered with the Red Cross for more than 50 years

The honour was also given to Mick Bullen who joined the Fire Brigade in 1961, serving at Woking, Chertsey and Painshill in senior positions and working as an instructor at Reigate. Mick retired from the fire service in 1989.

His work with the Red Cross began in 1965 driving ambulances and in 2016 he became county vice- president.

“When I first volunteered for the Red Cross all those years ago, who’d have thought I’d be still going over 50 years later. It is moments like this that make you proud to be part of this community,” he said.

Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking, presented all three with the Freeman’s Badge, ceremonial velum scroll and certificate marking the occasion. Their names will be inscribed on the Roll of Freemen of the Borough, which hangs in the council chamber.

For the full story get the 20 June edition of the News & Mail

BROOKWOOD residents have found a new sense of community having come together to plant out flower beds alongside the main village road.

Thanks in part to a council grant along with donations from several local businesses – local residents in Brookwood were able to buy around 300 perennial plants and shrubs to put in four main flower beds along Connaught Road.

The green fingered residents of Brookwood with their plants

Armed with trowels and spades a group of more than 20 residents set to work and planted them last Saturday morning, following on from initial work the evening before by about 20 local cubs and their parents on one of the beds.

Jess Sawyer, a keen amateur gardener, was responsible for getting the project off the ground. She said: “I used to pass the flower beds and think how sad they looked and other people said they thought the same so we decided to do something about it. It’s really brought the community together and some people have offered to water the plants and there are people who weren’t able to help with the planting who’ve said they want to smarten up their gardens now.”

Delighted with the result, Jess said that they’ve saved some the money they received so that they can plant bulbs later this year.

Cllr Ayesha Azad, who helped the residents to secure the grant of £500 from Woking Borough Council also came along in the course of the morning to congratulate the group on their work.

PLANS to widen the Guildford Road in Woking town centre to a dual carriageway moved closer with the announcement of a £90 million government investment.

The money will come from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, with the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government saying on Tuesday this week that the project will “unlock plans” for up to 4,500 new homes in Woking.

Plans include the widening of Victoria Arch over the A320

The widening of Victoria Arch over the A320 to accommodate the wider road could also lead to improved rail links through the town, including a possible extra line and expanded railway station.

Kit Malthouse, the Housing Minister, said: “For decades, governments of all stripes and types have not built enough new homes, and we need to see urgent action to turn that around.

“This £95 million investment in Woking town centre will mean the town is ready to support thousands of much-needed new homes.
“We are making money available in Surrey so we can build more, better, faster and meet our ambition to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.”

Last year, Woking Borough Council announced that it was working in partnership with the county council on plans that would include widening the road and arch to relieve town centre traffic congestion and make journeys quicker and more reliable.

Although funding is now in place, there are several hurdles to cross, including the work receiving planning permission and possible attempts to block it by residents and businesses.

It was estimated that the work could start towards the end of this year, but the timescale seems very tight.

For the full story get the 13 June edition of the News & Mail

THE Woking Town Wharf has been officially opened, providing residents and visitors a base from which to explore the Bastingstoke Canal.

Councillor Colin Kemp, Woking Deputy Mayor Cllr Saj Hussain and his daughter Faaria Sahi with Basingstoke Canal Society Chairman Philip Riley

The wharf was created last year funded by Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council with a contribution from Basingstoke Canal Society.

The facility is intended to attract visiting boaters to stop off in Woking as well as create an attractive area for all to enjoy by the canal side.

It also provides a base for the Woking trip boat Kitty and accessible trip boat Maggie G, which have provided a new visitor attraction in the centre of Woking enabling all visitors and residents to have an opportunity to explore their local waterway by boat.

For more details and pictures get the 6 June edition of the News & Mail

WOKING’S Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden has won first prize in a national awards scheme.

The walled garden, in woodland on Horsell Common, has been named winner at this year’s Local Government News Street Design Awards.

The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, accepts the award from Laura Sharman, with representatives of the council, Horsell Common Preservation Society and terra firma Consultancy

It came top in the Urban Green Space category, gaining recognition for Woking Borough Council, along with landscape architect terra firma Consultancy and Horsell Common Preservation Society.

The awards, organised by Local Government News magazine, recognise best practice and innovation in street design schemes.

The burial ground, off Monument Road, was established in 1917 as a cemetery for Allied Muslim soldiers who died of their wounds in this country during the First World War. There were further burials in the Second World War.

The remains of the soldiers were later transferred to Brookwood Cemetery and the site fell into disrepair over the following years.

In 2013, Horsell Common Preservation Society and Woking Borough Council came together to create a special place of remembrance celebrating the vast, and vitally important, contribution made to the Allied war effort by armies of the Indian sub-continent.

The peace garden was opened during an act of remembrance the Earl of Wessex on 12 November 2015.

Local Government News editor Laura Sharman said: “The judges were extremely impressed by the scheme, which achieved nearly perfect scores for its high quality design and meeting the objectives set out in the brief.”

For the full story get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail